The Yorkshire Evening Post Review Gusto Cookridge
Looking for a really good Italian restaurant in Leeds can sometimes be a challenging task.
There are many that are decent, but it can be tricky to find one that has that extra special wow-factor to make it stand out from the crowd.
So Oliver ventured away from the city centre and into the suburbs of north west Leeds to Gusto on the hunt for something special.
And it was a successful mission.
As soon as my dining partner ordered the whole salt-baked sea bass for his main course Oliver couldn’t help but feel a slight pang of jealousy.
When the dish arrived it was not only delicious but presented with great showmanship, helping Gusto claim the edge over its Italian rivals snapping at its heels.
It was easy to see that we would be in for a special treat especially after the friendly waiter set up a special portable table next to our table.
He meticulously laid out his tools of the trade before presenting us, and the entire restaurant, with the piece de resistance.
A whole sea bass, covered in a mound of baked salt, was placed at the side of my dining partner before the waiter picked up his cutlery and gently cracked the salt away revealing the fish hidden underneath.
My dining partner claimed that the delightful dish, priced at £17.95, was the best seafood he had ever tasted and it was only fair that Oliver had a nibble just to qualify such a bold statement.
And yes, even though it pained me to say it after realising that I would have to watch him devour the dish in front of me, he was right.
The Italian word Gusto means enjoyment or vigour and there was scertainly plenty to enjoy about Gusto.
We arrived at the restaurant with five minutes to spare because we were told when we booked our table that we would lose our coveted seat if we were late.
But it was easy to see why because the slick, plush chain was packed to the rafters when we arrived.
We opted for a quick drink in the bar before we were shown to our stylishly-lit table and this is where the magic began.
Most tables in the darkened restaurant come complete with their own overhead light , which is just as well because we would have struggled to see our food without one.
The centrepiece at the heart of the room is a 200-year-old olive tree, elegantly draped with twinkling fairy lights, which adds to the restaurant’s charm.
For starters Oliver opted for the roasted garlic mushrooms in a cream sauce with prosciutto and grilled ciabatta for a reasonably priced £5.75.
My dining partner chose the hand-rolled meatballs in a spiced tomato sauce with a grana padano glaze and ciabatta, priced at £5.45.
The well-presented starters arrived promptly and were delicious.
The mushrooms weren’t overpowered by garlic but there was just enough to remind the diner that it was there.
The meatballs were delicious and flavoursome and left my companion looking forward with much anticipation to the arrival of his main course.
Oliver decided to try the baby scallops with tagliatelle, pancetta and cream, priced at £11.25 – but still couldn’t help but look in awe at the arival of the main meal across the table.
But the baby scallops were also delicious and the pasta was perfectly cooked.
There was plenty of choice from the dessert menu.
Oliver decided to unleash the inner chocoholic and plumped for the bizarrely named ‘Bombolini’ priced at £4.95.
It was a mouthwatering selection of warm homemade doughnuts complete with a pot of chocolate sauce and a scoop of cream.
My dining partner chose the slightly unusual combination of a Nutella and mascarpone calzone (£5.95) which was soon quickly devoured.
With two small glasses of white wine and a beer our final bill came to £67.80.
GUSTO ~ Restaurant and Bar: Italian for taste and enjoyment
Inspired by the elegant charm of a classic Italian ristorante with a contemporary buzz and a modern, stylish interior, GUSTO brings the true "taste and enjoyment" of Italy to our guests.
GUSTO - it's all a matter of taste!